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Robert Burns and Burns Night celebrations 2017

by November 9, 2016 3 Comments

Celebrated annually on Robert Burns’ birthday, 25 January, Burns Night gathers Scots and Scots-at-heart around the world to pay tribute to the great poet’s life and works.

The culmination of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, Burns Night is marked by a jam-packed programme of celebrations across the country. There will be haggis eating, ceilidh dancing, songs, poetry and more, but most importantly – good company and loads of fun.

Robert Burns portrait with the words to Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Who was Robert Burns?

Born in 1759 to a farming family in the town of Alloway, Robert Burns  is one of the country’s most iconic literary figures and Scotland’s most revered national poet.

The statue of Robert Burns stands in the centre of Dumfries by Greyfriars Kirk

The statue of Robert Burns stands in the centre of Dumfries by Greyfriars Kirk

He wrote his first poem aged 15, and by his mid-twenties had gained a reputation for his pioneering views on politics, religion and class-inequalities.

During his short 37-year lifetime, he penned many famous works, including Auld Lang Syne, Tam O’Shanter and A Red, Red Rose.

Burns Supper in style

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Whisky Sauce © Macsween

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Whisky Sauce © Macsween

If there’s one night of the year to gather all of your nearest and dearest, it’s Burns Night. Enjoy a hearty feast with delectable haggis and drams of whisky, along with rousing verses and ceilidh dancing until the wee hours.

Addressing the haggis the Prestonfield House Burns Supper, Edinburgh

Addressing the haggis the Prestonfield House Burns Supper, Edinburgh

The ceremonies range from small, informal gatherings to large-scale dining experiences full of entertainment, but all centre around key traditions. Read more about Burns Night or learn How to Hold Your Own Burns Supper with our eBook.

Burns Night events around the country

Burns Supper being celebrated at Prestonfield House, Edinburgh

Burns Supper being celebrated at Prestonfield House, Edinburgh

If you would rather join an organised shindig on Burns Night, there are numerous events taking place throughout the country. Below are just a few, but please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list. Let us know in the comments below where you will be celebrating Burns Night this year.

Interesting facts about Robert Burns

The Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway

The Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway

Did you know that the Soviet Union was the first country in the world to honour Burns with a commemorative stamp, marking the 160th anniversary of his death in 1956? There are even claims that Burns’ works played a key role in helping the American president Abraham Lincoln win the American Civil War and abolish slavery (Lincoln was a huge Burns’ fan and would frequently learn his works by heart).

Find more cool facts about Robert Burns on our 10 interesting facts about Robert Burns page.

In the footsteps of the Bard

The Robert Burns House in Dumfries

The Robert Burns House in Dumfries

Explore places related to Burns’ life and works, learn about the love of his life, Jean Armour, or simply wander around and observe the landscape that fired his imagination.

  • Visit Ayrshire & Arran, where he grew up, and visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum with Burns Cottage, his birthplace, and the elegant gardens created in his honour as well as the Bachelors’ Club where he founded a debating society, probably the first rural society of its kind in Scotland.
  • Walk the streets of Edinburgh where he published a second edition of his poems and visit the Writers’ Museum where you can see Burns’ portraits, rare books and personal objects including letters and his writing desk.
  • Explore Dumfries & Galloway, the romantic setting of his later home region. Head to Burns House, where he spent the last years of his life, to see many relics of the poet, and don’t miss The Globe Inn, his former drinking hole, where his favourite seat still survives.Some poetry inscribed by Burns with a diamond in a small upstairs bedroom in which he often slept can still be seen.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Robert Burns and finding out more about Burns Night. Here are some additional Burns resources:

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Aldona Krzemien

Content Editor at VisitScotland
Originally from Poland, she's now based in Edinburgh and can't imagine life without four things: travels, photography, fishing for antiques and haggis!


  • Charly McArdle

    We are celebrating Burns Night 2014 in California! Below is a great article that helps non-Scots learn more about Rabbie Burns and the toast to the lassies!

    • Julie Harper जुली हार्पर

      We have three Burns Suppers coming up around Salt Lake City, Utah!

      • kimspangrude

        Where are they?

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